The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) stopped last week a local mining company from illegally conducting activities in Brooke’s Point municipality, this province. Lebach Mining and Develoment Corp. (LMDC) was prevented from conducting consultative assemblies with indigenous peoples.In a memorandum order dated August 14, 2012, sent to Palawan NCIP Provincial Office headed by Engr. Roldan V. Parangue, Regional Director Roberto L. Almonte instructed that the processes of FPIC (free, prior and informed consent) covering the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of Lebach Mining ‘is hereby suspended until such time that the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Executive Order 79 series of 2012 shall be officially issued.’ President Aquino issed last July 6 EO 79, which outlined the mining policy of this administration.
‘A formal notice shall be issued should the requirement of the law shall be accomplished warranting for the resumption of FPIC process,’ ordered Almonte, head of NCIP Regional Office No. IV.
Parangue and his Palawan team continued to conduct consultative assemblies in six tribal villages in Brooke’s Point from August 6 to 11 despite the issuance of Executive Order 79 on July 6, 2012, that is ‘Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector, Providing Policies and Guidelines to Ensure Environmental Protection and Responsible Mining in the Utilization of Mineral Resources’.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina said, “EO 79 and the President’s Directives to Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development is clear—to desist from processing mining applications in Palawan. It is also no secret that the indigeneous community in Brooke’s Point are against the entry of Lebach Mining. It is really hard to understand why the Provincial NCIP office is so adamant and so excited to assist the mining company, and disregard the opposition of the IPs.”
“We see irregularities in the insistence of Palawan NCIP Office to push for the consultative assemblies in our villages despite the Executive Order of President Aquino. The mining company has divided our people, now the very agency who has the duty to protect us connives with the interests of the investors who wanted to grab and destroy our ancestral lands and culture,” said Artiso Mandawa, chairperson of Palawan-based Ancestral Land Domain Watch (ALDAW).
Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI) worker Victor Colili who also attended the consultative assemblies said that the processes are being railroaded through the local NCIP.
“I have seen copies of community resolutions requesting for another round of consultative assemblies but I have been attending all the previous assemblies and no resolution whatsoever was discussed nor approved by the communities. There seems to be a miracle happening between the NCIP officers Sanga, Parangue and Abaa,” said Colili.
Rico Sanga is NCIP Palawan’s service center head and Rafael Abaa serves as engineer-staff.
In relation to the stoppage order, Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) Area Head Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda clarified that while the NCIP is intending to proceed with the said FPIC process, we believe that the objectives and intent of Executive Order No. 79 which President Aquino has recently signed, needs to be implemented in relation to the FPIC process.
“In fact, the Office of the President has already directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ‘desist from processing all mining applications in Palawan’. Although Lebach has an MPSA for its development and commercial utilization in Palawan, it has not finished securing all other pertinent documents, such as the Certificate Precondition, for its mining application,” said Mayo-Anda.
Mayo-Anda further said that while the Implementing Rules and Regulations of E.O. No. 79 are yet to be promulgated by the concerned agencies, it would be more prudent on the part of the NCIP to hold in abeyance all applications for the FPIC processes and Certificate Preconditions in Palawan, considering the intention of President Aquino in issuing the E.O. No. 79.
Meanwhile there are also reports that clear and substantiated evidence are available to prove that Lebach forged and falsified a Certificate of Precondition allegedly issued by the NCIP.
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.
Source: Alyansa Tigil Mina External link